Thursday, June 14, 2007

Catching Up


Back from the non-wifi chocolate box to a some interesting emails from BOM correspondents.

Public Service Publisher

Did you know that our friends in the "public service" media are cooking up a new quango to deliver yet more tax subsidies for their good selves? Under extreme threat from the "new digital age" (ie ordinary people no longer being confined to watching whatever dross our "public servants" feel moved to dish up), they have devised the wonderful wheeze of a Public Service Publisher designed to give them more of our money without them actually having to earn it from us.

The broadcasting quango Ofcom is naturally keen on the idea, and in January published a discussion document calling for £100m pa as "a sensible starting (!) point". They have now published the industry responses, and guess what they are. As Keith McMahon says:

"They asked if anyone liked the idea of OFCOM giving away £100m PER ANNUM for a load of old rubbish and the answer came back from the majority of self interested respondents - great idea.

Funny that."

Yes, very funny Keith. I'm splitting my sides.

Keith comments further over at Telebusillis, and Steve B points us to the Register's comment on the same thing. Both highlight this excellent Ofcom response from Wel Jackson:

"As a self-actualizing media node, I welcome this redistribution of government funds from provincial luddites to new media 'creative' Sohoites.

Cool Britannia lives! The creative industries initiative was good but didn't radically empower young creatives and their 360-degree thinking. Unleash the collective wisdom of new media and see us swarm!

If anyone wants to brainstorm this - then twitter/IM/SMS/Skype/email me. I'm up for an 'emergent conference'.

Let's flashmob this bitch up to escape velocity."

Let's hope somebody flashmobs Ofcom back to their supposed real job of... er... what was it again?

Name Game

Frequent name changes have been a feature of government departments under Labour. We all recall the DTI changing its name to the Department of Penis, and then having to change it back again sharpish. And the Department for Transport is now on its third name since 1997.

With Gordo about to shuffle the pack again, the Tories have put together an estimate of cost of new nameplates (htp Sam C). Since 1997, they total £2m.

That includes £30 grand for the Department of Penis' coitus interruptus, which apparently took £14,500 for the new signs, but then £15,400 for taking them down and replacing the originals. How could it cost more to put back what they had already? You'd almost think they just made the numbers up. Incompetently.

BTW, the overall winner is the Department of Constitutional Affairs changing its name to the Ministry of Justice. That cost us a stonking £1.5m. We know lawyers are expensive, but jeeps...

Incompetence Bonuses

We all know the Child Support Agency- it's so awful, the government is abolishing it (yes, we know that really it's just being renamed, but that's because in the real world ministers haven't the faintest idea what to do- but cut them a little slack- aspirationally, they're abolishing it).

It turns out that despite its catastrophically awful results, its senior staff have just been awarded yet more performance bonuses. Bonuses have more than doubled in the last five years, according to the DWP reflecting 'the substantially improved performance of the Agency'.
That brings total CSA staff bonuses over the last five years to more than £25m.

It's a parallel universe (htp Sam C).

And finally...

Capital of Culture

Last week we blogged the latest developments up in Liverpool's Capital of Culture moneypit. JMB passes on a useful tip for gauging how much such events contribute to "urban renewal":

"Whereas in a typical city one might return to one's vehicle to find it sans-wheels and propped up on bricks, in a City of Culture it will be supported on a pile of books."

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